03 limited 4wd off-road build

JPav

New Member
Jan 21, 2023
8
5
3
South/Central Texas
Hey all, here's a quick run down. Bought this vehicle April 2021 so almost two years now, started with 173k and now nearly 200k. Since purchasing I've only done maintenance and repairs, big plans for the suspension in the near future (when done with school). I've taken a handful of trips, mostly light off-roading completely stock.

The interior has changed and evolved quite a bit since the beginning, I decided to setup a sleeper inside instead of rooftop tent. Multiple reasons but mostly center of gravity and funds. I have a back log of maintenance jobs (timing belt etc.), interior sleeper project and pics from trips. Also a few interesting events such as sun roof and back latch betraying me with perfect timing and slight catalytic theft. I will be uploading pictures and posts from the beginning to now on this thread about this build. I will use this forum to record the build's journey.


I look forward to sharing the build's progress and checking out other's builds.
 
Last edited:

JPav

New Member
Jan 21, 2023
8
5
3
South/Central Texas

Day one​

Found this for a good price, 173k miles, a family's SUV lived here in TX and Colorado all it's life only surface rust on the frame. One family owner and completely stock, only has seen pavement and forest service roads. Other than some normal wear and tear she didn't have any serious issues. Previous owner warned me of a few gremlins but I wasn't really concerned with them. Fuel gauge works when it wants to, sun roof opens but won't close, brake pads are pretty much gone. They didn't keep any service records and when I asked about timing belt they were unsure when it was last done.

The plan was to get this thing road worthy in time for a trip to meet the girlfriend's family out in northern AZ and check out some sights in NM on our way back to TX. Since I had very little experience working on vehicles I gave myself about two months to get this thing ready for a road trip. I had done my research and knew that I didn't want to rush getting the timing correct for this engine. I also really can only work with deadlines so I like to start projects right before big planned trips Haha!
Planned repairs to have done in time for trip:
  • Timing belt
  • F/R brakes/rotors
  • F/R diff oil
  • Transfer case oil
  • transmission fluid
IMG_7936 (2).jpgIMG_7937.jpgIMG_7938.jpgIRNI0119.JPGIMG_8129.jpg
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: defecation

JPav

New Member
Jan 21, 2023
8
5
3
South/Central Texas
Alrighty it's been a minute since I've updated this project, been pretty busy with work, school and life in general. Timing belt/water pump job went good without any major hiccups. I took my time with it, a little over three weeks of weekends and after work sessions. I also replaced all rotors and pads and later replaced diffs/transfer oils and trans fluid. Only had done oil changes before this project so I was pretty cautious but learned a lot about engines in general, here are some pics from the job and a few from the post project shakedown trip to the beach.

Shortly before the first parts came in the o-ring on the crossover pipe that runs through the valley failed and started leaking pretty good. I was curious if this was the original belt/pump, all the parts I took off were OEM. Either way I thought it was funny I already bought everything to fix the problem.









Here are some shots of the old belt, looks pretty good if this is the original, 173k miles.
BJPI4000.JPGIMG_8253.JPGoldbelt.jpg



Here it is stripped down.
camphoto_1903590565.JPG



New parts being put on.
camphoto_959030623.JPG



Celebratory brew after successful fire-up/drive.
camphoto_1254324197.JPG


A week or two later we drove out to the coast for a shakedown (June 2021), this is the first time testing out the AWD, center diff lock 4hi and 4low. Everything worked good, sometimes have to shift around to get the center lock to engage but other than that she did good. This was when I was trying to decide what kind of sleeping setup I would go for, so in the meantime I got this car tent thing, it was okay but way too much extra space for just me and my girlfriend. We only used it this one time then opted to just use an air-mattress on the floor for future trips.
IMG_8461.jpgIMG_8460.JPGIMG_8462.jpg


Next things in the near future to happen are the first sleeping platform design, a few road trips and a very expensive and very annoying event that still throws gremlins at me to this day.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Andrewr05

JPav

New Member
Jan 21, 2023
8
5
3
South/Central Texas
I'm back, with another post (work, school and life have been keeping me busy). After the shakedown at the coast we made our 900 mile 13 hour drive to Show Low Arizona with no dramas. Stayed with the girlfriend's family for a few days, and checked out some local tracks. On our way back to Texas we checked out the Gila National Forest in NM. Stayed there for a few nights, checked out the cliff dwellings etc. (June 2021)

Heading out West.
camphoto_1143741253.JPG One of our camp spots in the Gila.IMG_8813.jpg On our way back the old girl did overheat a bit while cruising on the highway. When I did the timing belt I forgot to change the thermostat and was too lazy to swap it out before departing. Since swapping it there's been no temp problems. Also changed the AT fluid and cleaned the throttle body when we got back home.

Old vs new, hopefully I'm not the first person to change the fluid haha.
EQHV0340.JPG

Also have replaced the PCV and hose since the old one was pretty cracked, you can see how much oil/dirt has been accumulating on the manifold.
camphoto_1254324197.JPG
HYPK3784.JPG

Next I started working on the interior, I know I wanted a platform to sleep on with storage underneath. This is the first design and since then I have changed it. We wanted at least one seat in the back for a 3rd passenger. Essentially the plan is to have the whole unit bolted to the floor using the factory cargo fastener hardware. By unbolting the four bolts and getting a second person you could remove the whole platform/drawers as one unit. I got some generic drawer slides off amazon and used a trip to Big Bend National park to test out the setup. Let's just say I've changed the design and have "beefed up" the hardware to make it survive off-road conditions/vibrations haha. Anyways here are some pics of platform 1.0. Also got a Jackery and fridge/freezer for future trips.

LUVQ8430.JPG
IMG_9778.JPG
IMG_9779.JPG
Here's the old girl at Big Bend (December 2021), did all the tracks (black gap, old ore, river road) with no issues, other than the platform getting banged up pretty good haha, but that was the plan, platform 2.0 is much stronger.

IMG_9868.JPG

Next post will be platform 2.0, a road trip to visit a friend in Chama NM and a hiccup that cost me a bunch of $$$ and a bunch of time :(